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Six Appear in Court in Connection with Coup Attempt

ADDIS ABABA – Five suspects have appeared in federal court on terrorism charges related to the alleged coup attempt in Amhara regional state, their lawyer said.

Together with them, another defendant, Ayelom Brhanu, has also appeared in court on suspicion of plotting an attack on the high-level government officials on Tuesday.

The government officials were attending the memorial ceremony of army chief Gen Seare Mekonen and Major General Gezei Abera at Millennium Hall in Addis Abeba.

The five defendants – Berihun Adane, Merkebu Ayle, Sintayehu Chekol, Gedion Wendwossen, Mastewal Arega, and Ayelom Brhane, appeared before the Arada Federal first instance court first bench on Wednesday.

They are the first people to appear in court since Saturday’s violence, which left president of Amhara regional state Ambachew Mekonnen, army chief Gen Seare Mekonnen and two other officials dead.

The alleged ringleader of the coup attempt, Brig Gen Asaminew Tsige, was also killed.

The judge said the suspects could remain in custody. He allowed police’s request for extra 28 days to come up with more evidence.

Three of the six detained are members of a group called the Baladera Council, or Addis Abeba caretaker council, a political group that says it campaigns on behalf of the capital’s residents.

The federal court will reconvene on July 24, 2019.

Meanwhile, federal police have arrested 56 members of an Amhara political party following a failed coup attempt in the region over the weekend, the party’s spokesman told Reuters news agency.

The arrests happened in the capital of Addis Abeba, said Christian Tadele, spokesman for the National Movement of Amhara, an increasingly popular ethnocentric party founded last year and a rival to the Amhara party in the EPRDF coalition.

The police and prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.